Joe Walsh is a septuagenarian former union steward who rarely misses a City Council meeting and frequently attends in an orange t-shirt on which he's taped some withering statement about one official or another.
He's also the man you can thank for the hullabaloo around Portland's recently passed exclusion ordinance, which has city officials locked in rhetorical battle with the ACLU of Oregon and has been widely panned by folks who attend meetings. Were it not for Walsh suing the city in 2015 in federal court, an old policy allowing exclusions from council meetings might still be in place.
This new ordinance, which officials say creates more due process before a disruptive person is prevented from attending meetings, is an attempt to address Walsh's victory.
And today, once again, Walsh is promising a challenge. At 11 am, he'll chat with reporters downtown before filing a "contempt charge" against the city for passing the recent ordinance. Exactly what that charge will say isn't clear, since there's no indication the city's gone against US District Court Judge Michael Simon's 2015 order (which explicitly stated officials could craft a new ordinance).
Mayor Ted Wheeler has said no one will be excluded from a city council meeting until a federal court has blessed the ordinance, which may mean waiting until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has a say.
If Walsh follows through—he's been assuring people he'd take this step since before council actually passed the ordinance—this is the second time since he won in court he's tried to get the judge censure the city. Last year, after being arrested outside a council meeting, Walsh asked the judge to hold a hearing to determine if the city was complying with his order.
The judge found no evidence that Walsh had been excluded from future meetings (he hadn't), so declined the request. Charges of trespass and disorderly conduct against Walsh were ultimately dropped, after prosecutors said they didn't have the evidence to prove his guilt.